Tuesday, February 18, 2020
The Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club’s biggest race of the year, the Mount Gambier Cup (512 metres), has come a fair way since its inaugural running back in 1981 out at Glenburnie.
That was a couple of years after greyhound racing commenced in Mount Gambier, Joan Cruise and Newman McDonnell’s Tara Topar (Luska Dubh x Front Rank) defeating Cindy’s Range and Autumn Print in a time of 29.83 seconds for the 479 metre event.
This year marks the 40th running of the Mount Gambier Cup, sponsored in 2020 by Bourne Kennels of Allendale East, and will be its third running as Group Listed, the previous winners being Xtreme Caution (Brian Weis) and Galactic Athena (Steve Bartholomew).
The cup, which now carries total prizemoney of $22,000, has certainly increased in value since that Monday afternoon in May 1981 when the final was run on the Adelaide Cup public holiday.
Granted, less prizemoney back in those days of on-course bookmakers and no off-course betting, but this was still one weekend not to be missed with the cup heats and supporting events run on the Saturday afternoon.
On the Saturday night was the social function where a steward from Adelaide would attend and oversee the drawing of all events for the Monday meeting.
And leading into the weekend was the traditional Calcutta, a legacy of the coursing days and in place for the first cup when conducted in a farmer’s woolshed on Jubilee Highway.
It is believed that the eventual winner, Tara Topar, was purchased by a bookmaker for $100. These days the Calcutta is conducted at the Tara Raceway clubrooms on Lake Terrace East with Aston It Is attracting the highest bid last year of $920.
A maximum of eight Mount Gambier Cup heats will be conducted this year on Sunday, March 29, along with heats of the Produce Store Feature Maiden (512 m), the series that two years ago unearthed Spring Bridge and last year Galactic Titan and Spring Value.
The finals of these two events will be run a week later on April 5 in conjunction with the Committee Cup Consolation, the Tankman 600 (600 m) and the Formula 400 (400 m) – all one-off events.
The Calcutta, which will kick off around 6.30 p.m. with a barbecue dinner on Saturday, March 28, is always an entertaining night – and rewarding for some. Purchasers of the three cup placegetters at last year’s Calcutta auction received $3416, $1366 and $683 respectively.
Chasing his third Mount Gambier Cup, this time with Spring Value, will be Killarney trainer Kevin Mugavin, successful in 2006 with Poetic Magic and again in 2012 with Rich Shiraz.
The red brindle son of Spring Gun and Magic Matese has raced at Tara Raceway over 512 metres on five occasions this year for four wins and a second, with no better cup trial than his 10½ length win in last Sunday’s Williams Crane Hire Open Stake in 29.44 seconds.
Meanwhile, Allendale East trainer David Peckham has his sights set on the Murray Bridge-Mount Gambier Cups bonuses with Dyna Carnie, the Tara Raceway 400 metre record holder and the second-fastest over 512 metres after a recent run of 29.33 seconds.
Dyna Carnie will race on Friday at Warrnambool prior to having a look at Murray Bridge on Sunday, March 1 before tackling a Murray Bridge Cup heat (455 m) on Friday, March 6.
Once again, Greyhound Racing SA will pay a $5000 bonus if the same dog can win both cups and also a $5000 trainer bonus if the same trainer can win both cups (same or different dogs).